Review the Licensed Child Care Center pathway information below to help you prepare for your application to ExceleRate Illinois. 

  •  No application is needed for the Licensed Circle of Quality. All Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed child care centers that hold a valid and current IDCFS issued license are recognized at this Circle of Quality.  
  • Centers must prepare for and apply to ExceleRate Illinois to be considered for a Circle of Quality above the Licensed Circle of Quality and be IDCFS licensed for a minimum of one full year.  
  • Programs should work with their licensing representative to clear pending and substantiated violations from the previous 12 months prior to application. Programs can verify violations by going to the IDCFS Sunshine (Illinois Daycare License search) website or calling the IDCFS information line at (877) 746-0829.


Required Trainings for all Circles of Quality

A Program Administrator (per IDCFS licensed physical site) must attend an ExceleRate Illinois Orientation- the orientation is offered online or search the Gateways Statewide Online Training Calendar for local availability.

Please use the Required Training Grid (480 KB) to review what trainings are required at each Circle of Quality.  If you have questions about required training email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

How are staff defined by ExceleRate Illinois?

For ExceleRate Illinois Standards and Applications the below staff definitions can be used.

  • Program Administrator- Director, Assistant Director, Director/Teacher (when spending 50% or more time in administration role)
  • Teaching Staff- Teacher, Assistant Teacher, School-Age Worker or School-Age Assistant
  • Teacher - Lead Teacher, Teacher, Director/Teacher (when spending 50% or more time in teaching role)
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